Convenience stores are preparing to protect themselves - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Convenience stores are preparing to protect themselves

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - More South Georgia convenience store merchants say they're arming themselves, even hiring security guards for protection.

They say they are encouraged by the arrests of two teens.

In the December robbery and murder of a 19-year-old clerk at an East Albany store, but they are not letting their guard down in case of more violence.

Albany store owners and managers say they are always concerned about robberies, and the needless death of Sentos Vicente, who appeared to be cooperating when shot makes them worry even more.

This chilling store surveillance video shows two masked armed robbers charging into the Guata Mex store on Radium Springs Road just before Christmas, and before they left 19-year-old Sentos Vicente was dying from a bullet in the head.

"You kill people for just a couple of dollars. I mean life is worth more than that in this country, and should not happen," said Grab and Go Food Mart manager Jay Patel.

19-year-old Santarious Nelson and 16-year-old Anthony Hill are charged with murder and store managers say they hope harsh punishment will prevent more violence.

"It's a sad thing. We hope for the people who got killed, for their family. They need to do something about it," said Nainesh Patel, the BP store manager on North Slappey.

"Take legal action and harsh action on those kids. Maybe others will learn lessons from them," said Jay Patel.

We talked to ten store managers around Dougherty County on Tuesday, and all said they will quickly give their money to armed robbers to prevent violence, but many said they have armed themselves in case.

 "On the safe side we keep guns and stuff. Plus they get the license and everything. But we have security too," said Nainesh Patel.

"After dark we have at least a minimum of 2 or 3 people in the store. We have a guy who just sits around, watches TV, just to make sure our employees feel safe. And we have people with guns. Worst case scenario, we will be ready," said Jay Patel.

The store managers to a person said they are very concerned by young people with guns, willing to kill for a few dollars, and even though these two teens are locked up, they worry how many more are still out there.

Some store managers showed us automatic door locks they have on their businesses. From behind the counter they can buzz regular customers they know in, and keep the doors locked for people they are suspicious of.

We talked with the manager at the Guata Mex convenience store, where Vicente was killed in December. He declined comment.

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